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Dear Chump Lady, My ex-husband and my father are both cheaters

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m currently struggling with how to deal with my cheating father.

It all started for me when 3 weeks before I had my daughter (now 8 months old). I discovered texts between my own husband and another woman. He lied, said it was only sexting, which turned out to be untrue. It was a full blown affair throughout my pregnancy. We are split up now, he sees the baby twice per week and I’ve finally gotten to a more peaceful place in my feelings towards him. I’m approaching “meh” steadily. Divorce papers are signed and I’m proud to be done and I keep distance and control. No kibbles. I take out my “briefcase” when I see him and it’s all business.

However, I’ve found it to be difficult to figure out how to deal with my cheating father, whose 8 1/2 year affair was uncovered by my mother via shmoopy text “I love you too” on their trip of a lifetime to Europe, to visit my mother’s relatives. It was uncovered by her a few weeks before I discovered my own ex’s “texting”. They’ve been married 40 years and my dad has always been on his own page. He’s always calling the shots and can be a big manipulative baby. My mom rolls with it. But he’s also quite creative, intelligent and fun. Total narcissist. My mom has let him have a lot of independence, which is (not so) interestingly the same pattern I emulated in my own marriage. I also married a seething narcissist, and with my daughter this sick pattern must end now that I’m aware.

Two months ago, my mom tearfully confessed she’d learned of my father’s affair before my daughter was born but had kept it quiet. They were “working on it” but when my mom confessed/described my dad’s post-discovery behavior (the typical cheater bullshit), it was clear to me that he was behaving in true cheater form. Blame game, pick me dance, just being selfish douche in general and it was easy for me to see through his games with her, thanks to your site and my own experiences with my cheating ex. I told her to change the locks and kick that cheater to the curb. She threatened him with that and he got scared. He had abandoned his fat shmoopy and the thought of losing his wife as well was too much to bear. He agreed to go to therapy and make more of an effort. My mom isn’t sure he’s going to “do his work” and look within to discover how and why he did this. I explained the obvious: Why would he want to? He gave up his cake, and now he has to look within?! Oy. Thats a lot to ask of a selfish prick.

Here’s my problem. Being around my father makes me ill. Seeing the song and dance my parents are going through is humiliating and painful. And I don’t agree with reconciliation in this instance. 8 1/2 years?!? I see my dad being super sweet to me and my mom. It sickens me. It feels like a fake and pathetic attempt to make up for 8 1/2 years of taking time away from us to poke a homely woman who was apparently dynamite in bed…gross! (p.s. The OW prize pig bitch was cheating on her dying husband with my dad.)

He cries when he thinks/talks about my situation: single mom abandoned with a baby while my ex-husband, a man I was with 10 years, lives with the OW skank with no soul. Yeah it’s pretty sad. But I’ll be okay. Because I’m rid of that lying cowardly emotional parasite. I’m 30 and have many good years to look forward to. However, my dad is still a disease permeating through my family. I have no respect for him and have told him to his face that he’s a fraud. He’s built his career on providing therapy and working in rape crisis prevention/supporting abused women and I told him he’s a hypocrite who has been abusing his wife for 8 1/2 years. He’s a self serving asshole. He risked our family for a whore on the side. Just like my stupid ex. They are such losers!

Okay so my dilemma is: I want to shut him out. But I’m torn. I’ve lost so much already. My mom has too. The holidays are rough. Father’s Day was especially painful. I don’t want to exclude myself from my mom’s life. She’s choosing to try to see if it’s salvageable. She’s almost 70 and I don’t think she’s ready to do old age without a partner. There are some good aspects of my parent’s relationship. But the problem remains that my father is straight up, a selfish and despicable liar who didn’t just cheat on my mom, he cheated on all of us. I feel like my mom is sort of still wallowing in denial. He’s a terrible person. Accept it! I hate being around them together. But my ulterior motive is I need help with the baby and I do want her to have her grandparents in her life. There’s just so much loss already.

I’m at the point where I want to go no contact with him. But I feel like that’s hurting my mom and not supporting her. Not sure how to navigate this in a way that feels right.


Cheated x 2

Dear Cheated x 2,

When life is a great big clusterfuck, I ask myself — what can I control here? And the answer is always — myself. That’s about it. I think you have navigated this nightmare brilliantly —  with a newborn you divorced your ex. (God there are a LOT of you here at Chump Lady. Can everyone just give these new mothers a BIG COLLECTIVE HUG?) You advocated for yourself. You were able to lawyer up and divorce that asshole. Well done on the decisiveness.

Your problem is, you can’t divorce your father. He remains… your father. You can go NC, but no one gets an ex-father. You just get an estranged father. And he’s rather a package deal with your mother, still in high chump mode. But more on that in a minute.

The problem with wing nuts is that once unmasked, they never sparkle brightly again. They know it. You know it. Sure, they might try and put the mask on again, like your father is doing now being “sweet” to you and mom, but your gut knows — he’s a fake.

You’re an authentic person who wants to deal with him authentically — so you call him out on his shit — YOU’RE A FRAUD! But Cx2, sweetheart, you may as well try and shame a doorpost. He senses the lack of kibbles, but that’s about it. He’s not going to do introspection for you, or your mother. The only chance of that happening (slim, slim chance) is if you were to impose meaningful consequences — you with NC, but mostly mom with divorcing his ass. But even then my guess is he’d spin it that he’s the Poor Sad Sausage and Victim of Your Warrantless Bad Opinion. So that leaves you with one option if he remains in your life — dealing with him inauthentically. Eating the shit sandwich and mirroring his phoniness with a trough of your own phoniness.

Unfortunately, there are many situations like this in our life. You’re just unlucky enough that this person is a parent. But we’ve all got co-workers, in-laws, siblings, or neighbors who make our skin crawl. People we have to play nice and exchange social pleasantries with. But goddamn it we know too much — we know where the skeletons are buried. And we HATE who we are when we’re around these freaks. So we avoid them. Make excuses to duck out early, not get assigned a committee with them, or pick secret Santas.

It exacts quite a price to be around these people, because unless you’re disordered too or can say “Bless your heart!” with a straight face (I cannot) — you’ll find every encounter incredibly draining.

So that’s my advice to you — minimize contact until you can find the fortitude to do serious phoniness in their presence.

Here’s another thing you don’t control, sadly — your mother’s chumpiness.

You and your kick ass attitude and the way you’ve modeled self respect to your daughter are seriously threatening to the both of them.

He cries when he thinks/talks about my situation: single mom abandoned with a baby

Bullshit. He’s not crying for you — he’s crying for HIMSELF. Your situation — where you threw the bum out and imposed consequences — terrifies him. Of COURSE he’s going to make you out to be “tragic” — because that’s an implied threat to your mother. Oh! Poor Cx2! Abandoned! Alone! Unloved! (SUBTEXT: Boy, you’d sure hate to end up like HER.)

You know what a loving father says when a man cheats on his daughter? — “Where did I put the shotgun?”

He should be proud of you the way you threw the bum out. But he can’t be because he’s a bum too.

Here’s what seriously creeps me out about your dad:

He’s built his career on providing therapy and working in rape crisis prevention/supporting abused women and I told him he’s a hypocrite who has been abusing his wife for 8 1/2 years.

Exactly — he’s an abuser. Not that it really matters, but 8.5 years THAT YOU KNOW OF. That’s a freaking long time to carry on a double life. Who DOES that? Predators do that. I’m sorry, but I don’t know nice people who choose professions to “help” the very people they’re secretly hurting. Jerry Sandusky springs to mind.

No wonder you don’t feel safe around this person!

The best way I could spin that is he’s just exceptionally dim, and self-centered, that he couldn’t see that he’s the LAST person to offer trauma advice to abused women. He’s been humiliating your mother for years with a long-term affair. I know narcissists are dim and self centered but it’s just too much of a coincidence that he “helps” fragile women. Isn’t it nice when women are fragile? Your mom putting up with his crazy and his cheating. How will she ever manage without HIM? She’s a good chump. And you there, so TRAGIC and sad and ABANDONED (next time he says that, say “No, I left his ass.”) And the Other Woman, so ugly and yet so fuckable. What’s the common denominator? His centrality. He’s so powerful and you’re all so sad and broken and in need of him.

Yeah, I wouldn’t touch that with a barge pole on Father’s Day either.

If it were me, I’d take mom out separately and hum Beyonce tunes every time she mentions dear old dad. Live by example. You’re doing awesome. Maybe she’ll catch some of that. I sure hope so.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • You are awesome! You have it so clear…but CL´s advice is great. I would add to tell your mother that turning 70 with a fake partner will only ruin her health. She will be reminded of his cheating every day by just seeing him. It will be a trigger for traumatic stress and she will be constantly thinking if her whole married life was a lie…and at that age it will be devastating. The best thing is that she becomes an awesome grandmother and you go through this together. I am sure it will be a difficult but amazing bonding experience. ..

    • Agreed. And I also think cheatedx2’s mother is at risk of having her husband do it again even at his age. Who is to say once he gets his wits about him, and it’s on HIS terms, that he doesn’t start up another affair and then leave her.

      I just have this feeling that he’s faking his remorse simply because he has no options at the moment, but that could change. He has no respect for her; he’ll leave if he can.

      If mom can get into some counseling, perhaps that will help her to see the big picture and the risk she still faces.

      • I feel that unless Mom declares serious consequences and puts up big giant boundaries she will be stuck in this situation for life.
        With Narcs, they have to feel a huge loss in order to modify their behaviour ( remember no empathy or love ).
        There must be a cost to the Father for him to change, otherwise he will just go more underground with his cheating ways.
        I am so sorry for your family, but it looks like you have a handle on things up date.
        I believe God brought your child into the world just at the right time.
        What a beautiful gift.
        Focus on this and let the Chester’s go. God will know what to do with them !

        • Mom should have him sign a post nup. That should knock some sense into him.

  • Great post CL.
    Cheater x 2 stay strong and true to your moral compass.

    Cheers Bellzero

  • Fucking fantastic advice, CL! And Cx2, you are amazing, and you can do it the way CL describes, you CAN have your mom, and ignore your dad. Just be straight up about it. Your mom will love you for it – you have “picked a side” as such – hers! You can help her find her strength. Love this advice, hate your situation, but can relate (leechy father, awesome mother, who did kick him to the curb, a year after D-day, but she got there!)

  • Father’s Day this year was spent at my daughter’s graduation from college. Oh joy! On a weekend it should have been about her, it was all about HIM. Ex had all his family show. Guess he needed those kibbles. My ex still thinks he’s a good person but as each year passes I see that our kids recognize that their father is someone they no longer know, trust, or respect. He is just there. We no longer ignore the truth, and we have all learned how NOT to spackle. When you leave your family for your schmoopie, rob everybody blind (walk out on a mortgage, steal money in savings, and abandon your three kids in college) , and then pretend you’ve not made poor choices…well, it just no longer works. Just like there’s a limit to the amount of bs you’ll accept from a friend the same can be said for family members. My children have learned to surround themselves with kindred spirits, people who share their values, and as Josh Elliot in his commencement speech this last weekend so eloquently stated, (quoting Richard Bach) “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” This is so true when those you love cheat…. Character matters.

    • Last year my daughter graduated from college right after dday hit, so it also derailed her graduation happiness and party and such.. I feel your pain. It should have been a wonderful time, not about her dysfunctional parent.

      • My youngest son was planning his wedding when d-day hit and had to postpone it for a year because of all the turmoil. Plus I couldn’t stop crying long enough to care about a wedding at that point. Hate what cheaters do to the kids.

  • Drew – well said. I’m still amazed how many cheaters will take a piece of tail in exchange for giving everything away. Like a deal with the devil. So many people look at my ex that way. He will always have a stench to him and most people won’t listen much to what comes out of his mouth now. I know he must feel it. He will never see any of his old friends or my family again. I wonder if that ever haunts him. And, that is my silver lining in all this pain. I get all our friends, some new ones, kept my family and it looks like his wants me to visit anytime. What does he get? Her. Just her. She doesn’t have much a family, let alone friends. Must suck for him. Oh well, SUCK ON bastard!

    • The thing is, they just don’t get just how much cheating devalues them. Regardless of their other accomplishments, the taint of being a cheater sticks with them. Always. That’s what I think about when I see famous cheaters like Mel, Arnold, and Tiger. They had EVERYTHING – fame, fortune, family – and it STILL wasn’t enough. They HAD to have that piece (or 10) on the side.

      Now when I see them, I don’t think about their accomplishments; I think about what f*ckups they are. Same with XH and other cheaters I know. Throw it all away for a downgrade. I just don’t get it…

      • Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York comes to mind. Can you imagine the stupidity of that woman? Was it low self esteem that caused her to give up more than most people can dream of? stupidity? whatever it is, lack of foresight at the very least means she’ll be forever tainted with the stench. loves this analogy.

  • Cx2, I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I agree with CL’s advice. I think you should also be prepared for any further ugly disclosures about your father. A counselor who is a predator is a horrifying combination. I saw a counselor many years ago who counseled me right into an affair with him. If it happened today in my state, he would be prosecuted. Perhaps that “counseling” was part of the reason why I was vulnerable to a Narcissist who became my CH. It sure didn’t help me grow strong or healthy so I could fix my picker!

  • OMG Linda. I can’t imagine the violation you felt by getting suckered by a professional preying on vulnerable women. No wonder you fell for it. And, the ick factor later that he was in a position of power and you really didn’t have a lot of control over what you were doing at the time. These predators are some of the worst. Yes, Sandusky comes to mind.
    Cx2 – I hope you don’t dig further or you might find more ugly skeletons there. Not saying your Dad is that, but just sayin, anyway. (all I had at 14 was a chiropractor who wasn’t interested much in my back/migraine problems as he was my young growing tits – asshole)

  • Cx2, my own parents had a cheater drama when I was in my 30s. In my case–who knows? My mother was known for making up awful stories about people; I also know that I caught her with someone else years before. It’s a tough situation. What I came to understand is that it was his life and her life; while I didn’t like how they lived, I had nothing to say about it. I would say that CL has the right idea, as usual. Once you aren’t dazzled by a cheater’s sparkle, once the mask has fallen off, there is no going back. But as the daughter of an abusive narcissist mother, I am not sorry that I maintained a relationship with her and helped her get the proper care in her last years. My bet would be that your mother won’t leave. She’s over retirement age and probably believes (and likely correctly) she would lose her home or the ability to maintain it or have a greatly reduced standard of living if she divorced, without the ability to rebound and thrive as you have. If that turns out to be the case, you can do what CL suggests: build a relationship with your mother that does not depend on your father’s presence. You can help your mother by loving her and understanding both her pain and her reluctance to kick her cheater to the curb. You can make your relationship with her about the two of you and your child. I’m not sure what you mean by needing “help with the baby,” but even if that meant 5-day a week day care, you can just be civil to your father; instead of “no contact,” you could make it “no conversation” other than small talk: hello, how are you, how about this weather?, the baby is getting big. Tell him that until you see a major change over time in his abusive patterns, that’s all he’s getting from you and that the only reason you are talking to him at all is that you love your mother and want your daughter to know her grandparents. But that if he pushes you, you’re done. My heart goes out to you. It’s awful to have a narcissist parent. But you’ve figured this out very young; you are educating yourself; you are determined to break the cycle. That is mighty!

    • thank you for this thoughtful reply. what you said about maintaining a relationship despite everything and caring for your mother in her last years. THAT is compassion and that is being the bigger person. And I agree, I don’t see my mom leaving. everyone’s replies and the mighty CL have helped me so much. goddd I am thankful for this site!!

      • cheatedx2, I agree that facing a divorce for your mother and all the stress and changes that go with it could be detrimental to her health. She’s in a bad spot because no matter what she does it’s going to be tough on living her last years. My heart goes out to you and her. Perhaps the best you can do is be there for her, encourage her to make friends and draw support from her church, or other organizations. If your parents end up in a nursing home they can be in separate rooms or whatever. Even married couples sometimes need the space of separate rooms in their older years.

  • You are half my age at 30 and twice as mature and forthright as I was at your age. But I knew right from wrong. My father cheated with my mom’s best friend – she’d bake coffee cake to share with my mom during the day and meet at motels with my pillar of the community, do-gooder father at night. I wanted nothing to do with him and I made the right decision. Wanna know how I know? Because, he couldn’t have cared less. Zero interest in me, my siblings or my children. Everyone was supposed to reach out to him because he had suffered through some kind of crazy with my mom and needed his own happiness. Unless we made and effort, there was no contact. And so the dazzle died. And it doesn’t bother him at all because he wouldn’t have initiated the affair in the first place if he cared about his family.

    I ended up marrying the same type of man and he’s done the same. The cycle has to stop somewhere and you are wise to recognize and not tolerate abuse for the sake of your daughter. Ask yourself now, how would you want her to behave if adultery was to happen to her?

    Do you know the story of the old woman and the snake? The woman lived in a cottage in the woods, friend to all, lover of everyone and every being. In a blizzard, she came upon a snake, frozen stiff like a rod. She carried it home and laid it in front of the fire. The snake began to wriggle and warm up as she cared for it. She came close to offer it some broth and as she did, the snake writhed and squirmed and bit her. As she slowly died from it’s poison, she questioned in agony, “Snake, snake, why did you bite me? I brought you in from the cold, I warmed your body, I gave you food! Why snake, WHY?” And the snake answered, “I’m a snake, that’s what I do…”

    Your father and your ex are snakes, they are venomous creatures. Biology doesn’t make those men father’s day kinda dads. They’re just, well…snakes.

    • this snake story is so spot on. I am so the person who picks up the “frozen snake” — need to examine that :/

    • Yes, yes, I love that snake story! (Your version is actually much better than the version ( heard and have been re-telling for years. And thank you Chump Lady for this excellent post.

    • I have never heard this snake story but it is definitely a keeper.

      My amazing therapist told me another story which resonated.

      “Some people think that all dogs are the same but you know that dogs are different depending on their breed. Retrievers like to hunt; huskies like to run. You are part home-loving lab and part family-protecting German Shepherd. Your husband looks like a dog but he isn’t a dog. He’s a wolf. If you let him close, he will bite your vulnerable, exposed parts and eviscerate you. Don’t trust him. Stay away from him. He is not like you: he doesn’t care about you, your family, or your home. He cares about himself.”

      This opened up my eyes. I just couldn’t understand what was happening. Once I went no contact, I finally allowed myself to SEE what had been happening for years. Once I was away from the person who continually told me that I was paranoid and jealous and imagining THINGS. Trusting my gut again and hearing this dog analogy both helped. My x was a fucking wolf . . . even though I like most wolves.

      • That is a good story, I definitely think my ex and I just had different kinds of brains and though processes. I really cared and loved people, he really cared and loved his accomplishments (and his female coworkers). LOL

  • So sad–for your mom & you. (However, world’s most gigantic Kudos to you for acting on behalf of yourself & daughter.)

    I was in what seems like kind of a parallel situation: In my ex’s family, long before his own cheating either started or came to light, whatever, his parents returned from living overseas for nearly 40 years. Rev. Dr. Dad was the sinister minister, Mom was a wounded enabler yet also something as a narcissist herself–had serious abandonment issues due to having been, well, abandoned as a child curing the depression. So she was more scared of being on her own than of dumping his abusive ass. They were in their early 70s at at the beginning, in reasonably good health.

    But once they got back to the US she lost all contact with her work, her extensive volunteering, her wide network of friends, even running the house (e.g., supervising the servants, ahem.) She collapsed. It wasn’t pretty. She spiraled down into one of the worst depressions I’ve ever seen. A small woman to begin with, I’d be surprised if she weighed more than 80 lbs. when the transferred her to the hospital for 3″ DEEP bedsores. Why did she have those?

    Because her Passive-aggressive monster asshole husband would/could neither bathe her–it was a power tug of war, nor would he call in Elder Services. Same with dressing. Same with eating.

    It was a fucking family nightmare.

    And because the lies had always been so thick on the ground in that family, NOT ONE of the 3 kids could step up and say “this is wrong” Basically, she starved herself to death.

    It was awful; it was sad; it was gruesome.

    Rev. Dr. Sinister Minister would visit her each day in the nursing home, then complain about his guilt to anyone who would listen. It was disgusting.

    So I would honestly thing about the long term ramifications of leaving your mom with your dad, and when he retires. You’ll have your hands full with the new baby. Maybe mom can come “stay with you”?

    • That might work for a bit – Mom could come stay with you just to help out with the baby for a while.

  • What is it with these counseling/support types?! My ex-wife STILL is a licensed marriage and family therapist whose private practice is supposed to counsel people on rebuilidng trust among couples!!! Makes me think twice about approaching a therapist or counseling…even though, I do know there are some good counselors out there. The license doesn’t mean much, though, apparently. My denomination would have defrocked me for committing adultery remorselessly but apparently marriage therapists are free to cheat on their spouses without any professional consequences. Who knew?!

    Cx2 glad to hear that you are setting boundaries for yourself and being firm about the truth. My personal opinion on these matters is no good can come forth from ignoring the truth. Until that is faced–e.g. your dad actually owning that he abused your mom by having this long-term adulterous relationship–I doubt that any lasting change can happen. Being civil in the meantime or forever (as I have my own doubts if your dad will actually own his dastardly choices) is not the same as denying the truth. In that way, I agree with Chump Lady talking about playing nice around people we cannot stand.

    • Full-Steam Ahead,

      How about a minister who also does marriage counseling? Yeah, that would be my STBX’s lovely AP. I have heard that she has also said that God blesses their love.

      When I read these stories of cheaters who cheat while their chumps are pregnant or have cancer or going through any time of transition or life-changing or life-altering event, I always wish for a large hole for all of them to fall into from which they can never emerge.

      Cx2, it is very difficult for people to make a life-altering change at the age of 70. At this point, the only life your mother knows is with your father, more’s the pity. I don’t hold out much hope for your father actually changing his ways at his age. He appears to be suffering from regret more than remorse. Only the veneer of “change” usually results from regret. Treat your father in any way that feels comfortable for you. Some days you may be better able to be civil than others. So what? How you feel about him and respond to him are the direct result of his actions.

      Be kind to your mother. We are all different in how we respond to what occurs in our lives, informed by our beliefs and lived experience. Your mother can only do what she can do. Perhaps your presence, your example and your strength will strengthen her and enable her, if not to leave him, to turn more of her focus toward you, the baby and her own well-being.

      Your response to your situation was MIGHTY in the extreme. Kudos to you.

      • Of course, “god” blesses their union. But last time I checked this isn’t the same God of the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament. Adultery is very clearly and consistently prohibited throughout.

        My ex told me to my face that she was being faithful to God after she lied to me gas-lighting me about one of her adulterous, long-term relationships I had just exposed. Well, you got to do something to silence that nagging voice in your head that tells you that this is a very BAD thing to do! Plus, I don’t care about the Ten Commandments doesn’t sell very well in a church.

  • Nain.
    You hit the nail on the head with that story. They are snakes and they cheat because they can.
    Cx2 you are a very smart lady, not only for yourself but for your daughter in making a better life for both of you. You seem to have the uncanny sense of what to do and keep listening to that gut feeling. You are very brave but have strong integrity. Something to be very proud of. As far as your mother is concerned, she has her journey and you have to accept that. It is hard to leave after retirement as I have been put into the same situation. I chose to leave and I’m glad I did as it would have gotten worse over the years. I left him with his whore and gave him lots of rope to hang himself. It does not surprise me that your father is in a job where he has to help people. He feels he’s a hero in helping them, therefore feeding his narcissistic ego. Its very common that they have to feel like saviours. My X took a life coaching course and feels he is qualified to council people on life choices even though his life is a sham. Its always a cover up. They are fake males feeding their ego and their whores feed that ego constantly. He may not be with his whore now but don’t be surprised if it either starts up again or he finds another one, after all they are a dime a dozen. True integrity there for any of them!!! Not,Barf. Your so strong Cx2, never let that strength fall as you can teach your daughter to stand up for what you believe in and to have pride. You have broken the pattern and that is amazing.Good Girl!!! Sending good luck wishes and blessings.

    • I agree that Cx2’s dad could easily enter into another affair. Perhaps, if her mom wants to stay with him, she can get him to sign a post nup so she has some security and he won’t run off with more than he should.

      • This is a good idea. Maybe you can’t get her to leave him, but what about getting legal advice about her situation? Also, you might be able to ask your dad to sign some papers, etc.

        Not sure what your parents’ finances are like, but any chance of getting a trust set up that you run?

  • hi everyone,

    thank you so much for your messages. It nearly brings me to happy (and sad, and angry) tears reading the kudos about my strength, and the encouragement to hang in there. The thought that I will one day be able to teach my daughter boundaries about how people treat you and will have demonstrated the concept of self-respect makes me happier than anything.

    I have lost a lot in the last few years. I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my first baby daughter when I was 5 months pregnant with her, then my partner of 10 years turned on me, and now my dad. I say lost because who i thought the latter two were are dead to me. I lost the two men that I thought would protect and do anything for me. But what i have learned is so much more valuable — I get to rely on myself and that is much more comforting than anything. I am MIGHTY. And as far as my dad and ex.. well I am glad I see their true colors now. Now I see the way they operate and I won’t be fooled any longer.

    It deeply concerns me that some of you so rightly pointed out my father’s sick sick sick need to help struggling/wounded/weak or abused women. WOW. yes, he is totally feeding his ego and being the “good guy” which is exactly what my cheating nurse ex is like. These creeps surround themselves with women in their professions who fucking dote on them like their mothers. they are spoiled children, these men. Everyone thinks these two guys are so great; I have heard it my whole life. If people only knew they are phony pieces of shit.

    and who the HELL are these counselors!? the woman my dad cheated with is a therapist too!! It’s like the rules don’t apply to them. And what makes me REALLY wanna vomit is how my mom tells me the things my dad says, like he tried to break it off with her but she would beg and he felt BAD. But he didn’t really feel that bad that he was fucking her when my brother was suicidal, when I lost my first baby, while he made a beautiful speech at my wedding (which is fucking tarnished now anyhow).

    I just DON’T get it! and thank god I never will, because i will never be like them.

    Thanks everyone, and to CL for the great advice.


    • I am so happy that you see through your father. My cheating wife’s father was a serial cheater. She has a lot of bad things to say about him, but not about the cheating, which should have been a red flag.

    • I use what I call “the cat approach” in dealing with my daughter’s father. I pet him just enough that he starts to purr, but not so much that he thinks he should wrap himself around my ankles and trip me. In other words, I’m nice but I’m not kind.

    • Right after I had my son, my mom was in contact with my ex (which was completely inappropriate). When I’d ask her to stop, she’d say ok but still talked to him. This happened repeatedly while he was lying and disappearing on our son, worse they were talking about me and agreeing how “difficult” I can be. Of course 2 narcassists/cheaters had a lot to agree on.

      I had to do the phony because I also desperately needed the help. She eventually (thank God) saw him for what he was and stopped, but there’s still a rift between us. It’s hard to be phony to one parent and not the other (my dad had no part in the shady conversations), but on the good side you can focus on the good parent and just be polite to the untrustworthy one…

      • My own mommie dearest . . .

        I always recognized that my x married his mother (me) but I really thought that I had done better than to marry my father . . . who is a cheater. Little did I realize that I had married both my parents. My mother is a narcissist and my father is a cheater and I married a narcissistic cheater (cheating narcissist?).

        My mother continues to have contact with my x. It’s her little secret. She likes the attention. She can pretend that she’s Queen for the Day. She is special, after all. Why wouldn’t he stay in contact with her?! He is using her. She’s a willing pawn. She’s his new Other Woman. He can tell people, “Yes. She doesn’t even maintain contact with her own mother. I’m such a decent person. Look what I do for her. After all, she’s an old woman.”

        I told her that she can do as she pleases but if she expects to have a relationship with me, she must name someone else as her Executor because I will not deal with him ever. She has said that she has done this but I have yet to receive proof. Until then, they can have each other.

        Part of me can laugh. Let him clean out her place.

        It feels so good to live after being hit by a freight train and I mean that most sincerely.

        • Exactly with the other OW comment. Manipulative narc ex + attention-desperate aging mom = the stuff nightmares are made of.

  • Your poor mom, and you. God, my dad was a flaming cheater. I wasn’t even going to get married his cheating was so over the top. And look, I married a cheater, who came out of his closet of what he really wants to do (he swears he was true to me until this affair I found out about) oh, he also is not sure he wants to return.

    My dad has died, and I want you to know, he went through a lot of women, and they all got younger and younger, he would make jokes that they were my new mommy. He was a narcissist pig.

    Yes he is your father, yes you can go nc on him the rest of your or his life if you want, it is up to you to decide if the breach is big enough. Yeah, a cheating dad just never looks the same, mine never did, he didn’t care he hurt us all, and continued to the rest of his life.

    I hope you mom divorces him and you two become so close. I really don’t feel going into your 70tys with a lying cheating husband is going to be very fulfilling. It must be very hard for her to rug sweep the sham he has made of all of their years, I am really sorry for her.

    She doesn’t have to grovel, he is the one who did it, and 8 1/2 years, that is so disgusting.

    I went nc on my dad for several years, when I started talking to him again, he was just as big of a pig as before, so I barely saw him the rest of his life, I just could not stand to be around him. So what he is your dad, you have to have principals and if what he did bothers you, it is within your rights to take a stand.

    I hope you do.

  • Only remotely related to this letter, but since we were talking about hypocritical people in the helping professions, here’s the story of a psychiatrist in my town who, though he was in charge of an apartheid South African program to electroshock army conscripts out of their homosexuality, was convicted of sexual assault on his male patient. His wife tried to throw the jury through bribery.

  • In the (excellent) book “Women Who Love Too Much” by Robin Norwood, I remember that she writes a bit about why unhealed people frequently become therapists–so they won’t have to do the work on themselves, but can also feel superior to their patients. Obviously this is not true of all therapists! I have had some good ones and one excellent one, but I must say that I have had mostly bad ones. And now that people can call themselves “Life Coaches” without even the training that therapists get….well, bless my heart… What can we say? Ugh. This is why we have to TRUST OUR INSTINCTS no matter what ‘title’ someone has…it would be nice to blindly trust again, but it just ain’t happening…. (sigh…)

    • Lots of people become therapists so they can put a label on their fucked-up-ness and then use it as a banner or an excuse as to why they don’t need to do the hard work to fix themselves.

  • Cx2,

    Your mother needs to get a Post Nup……NOW….. while the old Narcissist is in a “damage control” frame of mind.

    He has proven himself untrustworthy, and there is no fool like and old fool who’s terrified that he will outlive his “Johnson.”

    • Congratulations on riding yourself of the toxic lump of waste that was afflicting your own life…and doing it while you are young enough to have so many other GOOD options. 😉

    • “and old fool” should have read “an old fool”. [gotta stop typing so fast]

  • C2 – I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to lose your father to cheating. It is bad enough losing your husband, but a father can never be replaced. I can’t really give advice – I am fortunate that both my parents were people I could love and respect. My dad cared for my mother until her death from cancer 12 years ago, and while he now has a ‘lady friend’, he still misses her terribly.

    I wonder if ‘business-polite’ would help? That is what I am striving for with my STBX now. Neither friendly nor unfriendly, but polite in an entirely bland and generic manner (as long as he doesn’t push my boundaries) – nothing more. We have two children and at least six more years of shared parenting so no contact is difficult and I don’t want to stress my kids with hostility. Basic politeness gets me through the interactions I have to have with him and the business- polite manner makes it clear that I am not interested in chit chat or anything more meaningful. This might help you to be around to support your mother but without feeling phoney or engaging with him.

    Best of luck and you are setting a great example for your daughter about insisting on your right to be treated with respect by those who claim to love you.

  • Dear Cheated x 2.,

    Your story made me so sad. My father called me 3 weeks before I delivered my first baby and admitted he made A mistake. Notice the singular. The truth was he was seeing another woman for over 20 years and she had TWO kids with him and he already had 5 with my mother. Total narcissist pig. My mom was 62 at the time of the phone call.

    The first thing you need to realize is that you were raised by a narcissist father. He probably gave you no emotional support (due to his double life). If you want to fix your picker, you have to think long and hard about the ways it might have affected you. If you have siblings, it is worth it to talk to them and see how his emotional absence razzle dazzle parenting affected you.

    So, fast forward seventeen years and my parents are still together. It is my theory that this is the strongest marriage ever!! Sometimes people who are married to narcissists become narcissistic themselves. It is also common for the spouse to become alcoholic, lonley and depressed. It’s depressing to live with someone who doesn’t care about you. . But the truth is, my mom never wanted to be a single mother, and all she wanted was a nice family life. Of course my creep dad screened her for this before he married her and knew exactly how to play to her biggest fears so he could control her.

    My biggest regret about the whole episode is all the time I spent talking to my mother about her marriage. She couldn’t understand “what kind of guy would do this?” she would wail into the phone after she drunk dialed me. “Why won’t he change?” was another popular topic. Drama drama drama. This is a complete waste of time, and this is kind of harsh for your mom, but if she stays with him, she is implying that she is okay with this behaviour.

    Have her talk to a lawyer and find out exactly what she would get. This scares the narcs, because it hits them where it hurts, which is in the wallet. Would she stay if she got the house, half his retirement and alimony? Plus money back on what he spent on being such a fun affair partner? (that shit ain’t cheap). Your mom also has some power because it is my guess that everyone in the family talks to her, and she has all the news, that he doesn’t get because he is out dipping his stick. Everyone is going to be mad at him because of what he did, although they might not tell him directly. Friends will drop off and their social life will become nothing, except for other narc types. Who wants a friendship with a deceitful liar? Someone who shits on their family? NO one wants to be friends with someone like that.

    So, fast forward 17 years and hopefully I can save you some heartache here. I’ve been to counseling, on medication, Al anon for five years, self help books, etc. Finally, after one of the biggest arguments ever with my narc dad (did you hear the yelling?) I found CL and a nice description of no contact. That is where you have control. My father yelled at me because 1) he told me he was disappointed in me because I didn’t have a 50th wedding anniversary party for him. I asked him who he thought should have the party, and he said “the children”. Which of course, I answered “which ones?” And, in the high water mark of hypocrisy, he yelled at me that “I should forgive him because I was raised Christian”.

    See, cheater x 2, they start to get mad because the shine has worn off. People hassle them now. Less sparkles from work. No one is that interested anymore. What used to be a respectful relationship with him is now just a bunch of stinkeye glares. If your mom stays with him, he will get worse. My dad is ALWAYS around. Growing up, you could never find him because he was off cheating. Now he is like gum on shoe, and he has no friends, no job, and is obsessed with his health. It is very difficult to have a relationship with my mother because he tries to control that. He always answers the phone. If I visit there, he pulls up a chair if I want to talk to my mother. He forgets to give her my messages. He doesn’t understand why people like her, because they should like him, because he was so awesome and sparly. She is very kind, a trait he dismisses because he doesn’t have it, but of course he depends on my mother to be that way. My biggest hope in the world is that he goes before she does. So, my friend, tell your mom that there is a possibility that she will be alone. If he died before her, she will. Why not save everyone the misery of him and cut him loose to follow his passions now? He would NEVER go for it, he likes his meals, his comfy life, his access to his kids and his grandkids. and his money. Narcs biggest fear is being alone.

    I found CL last summer and it has been a godsend. I have had huge chats with my mom about kibbles, cake, gaslighting, and no contact. I can’t wait for the book to come out and give it to her. She would find such comfort in knowing that she is not alone. I had to separate from my mother for awhile because it was too emotionally draining for me to deal with both of them, but my mother finally had to admit the effect that the narc had on her kids. She was in denial about it.

    So, tell your mom that what you tell her is personal, and not to share it with your father. Tell your mom your dad is responsible for his relationship with you, and he has to do the work (he won’t). Tell her you only want to see her, and if you are at their house and he is there, you will be civil, out of respect for her. It will get worse until your mom realizes to the depth of her core what a creeper she married. She might have an interest in pretending nothing happened if she wants it to be easier for her. That might make you mad, too.

    Father’s day came and went, and not a peep from me. I used to send cards. My sister sends cards signed by her kids, not her. My brother gets pleasure in snubbing him on Father’s Day and his birthday. Everyone is “pleasant” when he is around, but no one asks him anything. He cries to my mother that he was “marginalized”.

    What I realized from both my parents is that they won’t take responsibility to do the work to be happy. If you aren’t happy in your marriage, why don’t you leave? They have a strange disfunctional codependency. In an argument with my dad I took great pleasure in asking him “Why didn’t you leave if you loved her?” but it’s a trick question. He didn’t love her, he just used her, like he uses his family. Now he knows I know.

    The other thing I delighted in asking him was “Is this a secret?” They freak. If they say yes, they are asking you to keep a secret. If they say no, you are going to tell everyone. My older sister found comfort in telling everyone she knew. This pisses the narc off, because it is all about image control that they are good guys. Well, if they didn’t do it, you wouldn’t be telling people. (consequences)

    I decided that if my father wanted to be a good grandfather I wouldn’t get in the way. He used to play a bit with the kids when they were little, but unless it is teed up for him, he doesn’t do a thing. But that is a relationship for him to manage, not me.

    Good luck to you. You have a lot to think about, but think about yourself and your child. Money can solve some problems, and childcare is one of them. Keep your distance from your dad. The pleasure for them is in the deceipt. It’s delicious, until the payback comes, then they have to create a drama so it’s about you and not them.

    Narcs end up alone in the end.

    • Nancy,

      Today has been a banner day for me. So many keepers!

      My x only made ONE mistake, too, but his mistake was getting caught. I only had proof of his last affair but I would bet everything that it wasn’t his only.

      I envy your camaraderie with your siblings. You all survived. Another gift I received is that I am now closer to my brothers. They had distanced themselves from my mother. They hadn’t warmed to my x . . . even though I always thought it was because we didn’t live near them.

      I am so proud of you for not throwing the big anniversary party and being a hypocrite. I found out that my own marriage was over right before the 25th anniversary. I was still married, technically, so I celebrated my 25 faithful, loving years in my own way but I am so glad that I didn’t make a fool of myself. I would have tried to celebrate that milestone with the fuckhead . . . Thank God for small favors.

      And you are correct. Narcs end up alone. His loss is my gain.

    • Nancy, thank you. Your words made me realize exactly what I am seeing! My husband is such a narcissist the word needs 3 more i’s to describe the jerk. But, the sparkles are not what they used to be. That’s it! That is what is going on! His sisters and his sons from his first marriage have all gone NC with him. His job is nothing now. No suits, etc. Now he is doing manual labor. He used to be a salesman but nobody buys from him anymore. His sixties suck. He has met my conditions for a trial reconciliation but he is one miserable ass. I can tell he is starving for those ego kibbles his EAP used to feed him. He knows that relationship of twenty plus years is gone. Our kids are ok with him but they know what he is. Only our handicapped … Mentally a two year old… son has real affection for him. Even the dogs just bark at him. Narcissists don’t age well.

  • So sorry for such drama. I was married almost 40 years when my xh said he was not happy and was leaving, never admitting to OW, to whom he is now married. Our dtrs. were 26 and 34 and royally pissed off at this turn of events. I am sure had he not chosen to leave, I would have remained in said marriage until death do us part. I am pragmatic to the nth degree, and perfectly happy on my own, even in my marriage. My family was sacrosanct to me, and the end result of almost 40 years of nurturing. He trashed it without a backward glance.

    The ramifications of that were that his dtrs. ostracized him for several years, and were barely civil to his OW/wife. And he seethed. Now, 8 years later, who cares. My dtr. has 5 children, and she and I are close and those kids are my significant others. I see my xh at events, and he is a fat old man, to whom I have little to say. Meh indeed.

    Keep your mother close, nurture that child, and take the best of what she can offer. Ignore the drama, as they are making choices that you cannot fathom as they are closer to the end than the beginning of their lives. If she chooses to stay (and in her defense, I probably would have as well), then she cannot complain/whine about her situation. My xh has issues in this marriage, and my dtrs. do not let him vent about them. His choice was his choice. They take his $$ and he engages with our grandchildren. I’m fine with that, bc they are a handful and I don’t want all the work it entails.

    I am fine, and like my life of independence and not answering to a grumpy old man who thought he was King due to his upbringing. But, I would have stayed in that marriage bc of family, period. He was not abusive or mean, and we always liked each other. He was just selfish. Good luck to you and yours, and I would advise your mother to seek out a lawyer, and learn about their finances/assets. If he dropped dead, she would need to know that. Then just move forward.

    • Oooh, what issues are coming out with keuwtoo that you have heard of? I would so very much like to reach Meh.

      • Ha, Patsy, at first I was ??? re keuwtoo but then recognized it as Q2 from another world! He and his wife are dealing with her mentally ill daughter who quit her job, and her very ill parents who refuse to move from their home. He is very unhappy that the daughter ended up living with them for a while, and he told Q2 she had to leave. I believe he is now supporting this daughter, and not happy about it. Whatever. No one promised him a rose garden. I just don’t care, frankly.

  • What is with these disgusting men cheating on their pregnant wives/fiancées/girlfriends ?!? It’s like real life comes knocking and they run off to never never land… There seems to be a shift in society where men take the coward’s way out of reality but justify it in their own heads. What happened to integrity and doing the right thing? What happened to respecting your spouse? My firm belief is IF you want to skirt around then don’t get married or be in a committed relationship. If they want to be selfish, that’s fine- just don’t drag another person into your web of lies. And if you have children with that person, donezo. Game over. Your child is now number one and you need to work even harder at your relationship, not run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.
    C x2 I too was a pregnant chump and am now a 29 year old single mom. You are mighty. Congrats on your divorce and ditching your ex. Your life will get better and fuller without him!! It takes a lot of strength to forge ahead when a person you loved and trusted does the unthinkable! And I used to think “why would he abandon me” … Now I think about it differently. Yes, he chose the easy way out, but I didn’t do the pick me dance- I showed him the door and didn’t look back. I respected myself and refused to give him one more day of my love. Now I give all of my heart to my daughter and hopefully one day will be with a man who has a moral compass and loves us unconditionally. We are worth it and deserve it and so do you!

    As for your dad, I agree with CL. You can’t control him or your mom but you don’t have to put up with the Bs either.

    Keep your head held high! You are an amazing woman and the sh*tty men in your life aren’t worthy of your awesomeness anymore. Be there for your mom but know that she has to make her own choices too. Stay strong! Being a single mom sure isn’t easy but I feel so much more empowered doing it on my own. This definitely isn’t the life we thought we’d have but it will be bigger and better without dishonest men in the picture!

  • Eventually, you get to a place, particularly after a divorce, when you have little tolerance for bullshit. You realize that other people’s poor judgment creates a time suckage and you just aren’t willing to participate anymore.

    You have to minimize people in your life who do not support you nor whom you are unable to reciprocate support. It is not that you do not love them or the relationship is not complicated. It just means they are not adding value to your life.

    Focus on your relationship with your mom. Make your dad an extra in the background. You may want to also inform him to cut the shit, you see what he is up to with the “family man” routine, and you will have no part of it.

    Maybe one day you will want to parse through your relationship with your dad. But you don’t have to today.

  • I’m using this post as an opportunity to ask a question about somewhat similar situation I’m presently in. My own mother seems to be taking sides with my cheater ex. At least that’s how I interpret a situation where she told me just this morning, and by the way, I am still shaking from that exchange, that she would like to invite cheater ex and his family for a BBQ/dinner, whatever the fuck she has in mind. Reason? She doesn’t think she should isolate ex’s mother (who very much took her son’s side- no surprise there), just because we’re broken up. WTF?!!? Someone decode this shit for me, because I’m speechless. Other reasons given: ex’s mother still a grandma to my son (so what?), we were together for 10+ years (relevance?), and finally, my parents don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. When I voiced my opinion, that I am simply uncomfortable with such scenario, for no other reason than I feel like it’s disrespectful, mother shrugs it off and says I’m too sensitive or replies with some passive aggressive shit, basically sending me a message that she’ll do what she wants to do.
    The reason this post in particular resonated is because I am presently considering going NC with her for the said reasons. But I am not only on the fence about this but absolutely terrified if the consequences.
    Please give me sound advice. There are moments when I feel like I’m losing my mind because I feel like since no one agrees with me (about my mother not minding her business and respecting my wishes), I may be wrong. Or that I am that unreasonable bitter ex wife who prevents from the rest of the families getting along.
    Also, my poor father has basically no opinion of his own. My mother castrated him a long time ago and he just goes along with whatever she says.
    I’m so heartbroken over this situation. Is NC the way to go here? WHY does my own mother feels this way? What can I do to protect myself and my sense of sanity? Am unreasonable and controlling (her words) if I state that my preference would be if my parents stayed away from ex’s mother?
    Btw, I don’t know if this is relevant, but my partners have been married for 35 years, no infidelity that I know of, I thought they had their catholic values which do not condone cheating, ex’s mother would looove their attention bc I am NC with her, infidelity wise- she’s a former cheater herself, then a chump… I am so confused here :(((

    • OMG Ann,

      Can you say DRAMA? Let’s assume your own mother is just a huge plain old narcissist, where she was satisfied just bossing your dad around.

      Basically, you are afraid of the consequences, because she wants you to be afraid of the consequences. This is where the rubber meets the road in recognizing your mom’s narcissism.

      She is trying to control you, and don’t fall for it. In this “hypothetical” barbeque that she is having, to prevent your ex mother in law from being alienated, are you supposed to show up with the kids and a camera? Let her have it, but you and the kiddos can disappear. You can’t stop her. She’s assuming the former mother in law will come.

      But here is where she is getting you. You are arguing (drama) over a situation that hasn’t even happened, she hasn’t lifted a finger, and you are upset! Better stay on your toes with mamma girlfriend!

      Don’t argue with her. She is upset, because she is unsure the ways that she used to manipulate you will work anymore. She is trying to figure out where you are at, and what she can do to be the boss. Here is where catlike niceness, as opposed to kindness, will work for you.

      You need to clear your head. Let them fire up the grill and have a blast with out you. You are an adult. Your life isn’t a democracy, they don’t get a vote. If pressed, say “meh”. I’ll check my calendar. The more you explain yourself, the more you will argue to defend yourself.

      Sorry, but your ex husband and your mom both suck. Stay away.

      • Ann – I really like what Nancy has written here, I think it is spot on. I wrote a letter to CL a while ago about my mom doing a similar thing and this is the post with her reply. Maybe it will help you too?

        It’s a very galling situation, but give it time. This was a HUGE trigger for me early on, but as I have moved closer to Meh, it has less of an effect.

        I’m so sorry your mom is not giving you the support you need and deserve right now. I wish you great strength to power through.

        • FLBright,

          I wrote my response . . . but your response was so helpful. I clicked on the link that your provided and you are so right. Reading what you wrote and Tracy’s response was so helpful.

          I realize that my mother could be worse but some days, . . . .

          And other days, . . . actually, most days, I know that my life is so good. I am free of all of that. I no longer have to tolerate people like my x or my mother. I count my blessings. I now know who they are. “When someone shows you who he is, believe him . . . the first time.”

          • Joy-filled chump – Thank you, I’m glad you found it helpful. CL is a great substitute cougar… lion?I can’t remember now what animal was in the clip!

            And I now live by that quote by the late great Maya Angelou. It is my mantra 🙂

      • Nancy, I’ve suspected my mother is a narcissist for years but I’ve always been so conflicted about using this term, not because she’s my mother, but because she’s capable of behaving in ways that are totally not narcissistic, unless I’m too dim to see the potential alterior motives. For example, she’s always been very generous financially: especially recently. Oh, poor (literally) daughter, let me pay that car loan off for you. Do you need extra cash? Can I babysit for you?
        In the same breath, btw, your ex MIL has been invited to a family get together and there’s nothing you can do about it. Do you need me to lend you more money?

        • Ann,
          I tried to type this on my phone, I hope it isn’t a double post.

          Let me ask you this. Is your mother offering money she earned herself? Or is it someone else’s? It is very easy to be generous with other people’s money. She could be what they call a “covert” narcissist. She doesn’t exactly want the spotlight herself, but she does use manipulation to get her way. Gavin De Becker, from the book of Fear, writes that she is doing what is called “creating indebtedness”. It’s hard to say no to what she wants after she gave you so much!

          So, I like the snake metaphor here. Take her money, and then don’t do something she wants that you find dishonest or disrespectful. Watch the fangs come out! Snakes can kill another way, too. they can slowly wrap around your neck and silently suffocate you. Ask your dad about that.

        • Ann, your mother can be a narcissist and still be financially generous. The real issue is where her focus is. Is she being generous out of the goodness of her heart or does she see her generosity as being about her? The difference is this: “Oh, you poor thing! Your life would be so much easier if you didn’t have that car loan!” and “Oh, you poor thing! Let me make your life easier! I will pay off your car loan! See how much I love you?”

          If your therapist isn’t picking up on your mother’s actions, you may want to shop around a bit more. You’ll want help not only with setting boundaries, but also how to detach from your mother and her form of crazy.

    • Ann,

      I wrote several responses to today’s posts but have to add my two cents to yours.

      Your mother, like mine, likes to be “Queen for the Day.” She is selling you out. She isn’t loyal. She only cares about what she gets. She is looking for ego gratification, aka kibble.

      You will never be able to change her but you can draw your own boundaries. You deserve to be treated better than this. You have a right to be upset. Your own mother would rather treat you like crap.

      You are not unreasonable. Your parents can do as they please but you have the right to expect some loyalty. Your feelings do matter. You matter.

      You got rid of the cheating husband. I suspect that you were attracted to him (as I was to mine) because he was like your parents. I hope that makes sense. My x did not treat me with respect. He did as he pleased. I was never a priority. I realize now that that is exactly how I felt growing up.

      I do hope that you have a therapist. Good ones do exist. I bristled, at first, when my amazing attorney told me to find one but the lady I found earned every dollar. I learned that I have a lifetime pattern of saying, “That’s okay. I understand.” I had learned not to expect much. I had learned to mediate. I had learned to smooth things over and to make excuses for people. It was a lifelong pattern. Well, I’m 54 and I’m learning new patterns and loving it. I, like you, deserve respect. I deserve to be around people who are kind and honest. So do you.

      Please hang in there. You have a right to your feelings.

      Sorry for the length of this but, again, it struck a nerve.

      • Thanks for saying that I am not being unreasonable, because I’ve started to think that I am! Actually, I’m still confused as to how I should feel about this, how I should proceed, fearful of potential outcomes.
        My therapist is okay, I’m paying out of pocket and he really gave me a good deal so I feel like I’m almost stuck with him. I don’t know if this is typical of therapy, but I’ve expected his advice and I just get questions and acknowledgment for my feelings. I need someone to shake me, tell me what to do.

        • Ann,

          We all know the answers but I was so thankful that my person directed me to my own answers.

          A few months after we started meeting, my x and I considered reconciliation. We spent time together doing mundane things like seeing a movie, having a few meals, going on walks, skiing. He then was out of town for a week but calling. I call it “the thaw.” Upon his return, he told me that he didn’t know if he wanted to do my laundry list of demands. He also told me that he didn’t know if he wanted to give her up. My response: “Thank you for letting me know. We are done. Don’t contact me ever again. Contact my attorney.”

          My therapist did not realize that any of this had happened so when I saw her afterwards, I was telling her the story. When I told her how it ended, she told me bluntly, “Thank God that you did not fall for his story. He wanted you to let him back into the house. He was going to wait until you were gone one day and then he was going to change the locks and say, ‘See how it feels!'”

          My therapist listened to how I explained things and then was able to connect the dots. She made me realize that I was repeating childhood patterns of behavior.

          She never told me what to do but she listened to me so closely and she made me realize what was going on. I wasn’t all of the things that my x said I was. I just went to see her again for a recharge (to deal with my feelings about my mom) after a ten-month absence. She said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you. I have wondered so many times how you are doing.” She always made me feel like I am a good person and that I am worthy of respect.

          If your person doesn’t make you feel strong and good about yourself, get a new person. It’s your money and your time.

        • You are not stuck with him, if he was good you would know it. Find someone else, seriously, my first therapist totally sucked but I didn’t realize it because I’d never done therapy before. Interview some.

    • Ann,

      You may wish to think about these questions…

      Is there any way that your cheater ex can make your mother’s life hard about having access to her grandchild?

      Has she expressed any concerns to you about him and his family making things even harder for YOU if she isn’t cordial to them?

      Have you point blank probed her about why she feels the need to maintain a cordial relationship with these people?

      I have maintained a civil demeanor toward my cheating youngest ex son-in-law because their custody arrangement is such that he could and would make it hard on me (by being inflexible with her about swapping days) to have access to my grandchildren when I have family events which includes all my kids and grandkids. I don’t live very close to them, and the few whole-family social events of the year that I hold in my home are very valuable to me. This bothered my daughter somewhat until she reached the stage where she understood that it was not lack of support for her; but also looking our for a grandparent’s interests. Then she understood my concerns. I told her flat out that I detested him, but could kiss ass with the best of them if it greased my skates about my grandchildren.

      Additionally, that son in law’s mother is a very kind and decent person, who goes above and beyond in order to insure that when my baby grands are with him, they are more than adequately loved, supervised, and taken care of… because he is basically a spoiled brat who can’t be bothered to feed and dress them properly. I appreciate her for that.

      I know that she did not like it when my daughter left him, but all mothers are somewhat protective of their children, regardless of how worthless their children may be. His mother is polite and works to accommodate my daughter on arrangements about the kids, and my daughter has come to see that his mother was in an awkward position and simply did the best she knew how to cushion the blow of divorce on those children.

      I have no animosity toward D’s ex MIL [His fucking crazy-ass father is a whole different story! So I just avoid interacting with him.] She and I are kind and cordial when we see each other…..primarily because of the grandchild tie. We were both devastated by the impact of the divorce on those little ones. We also knew there was nothing we could do about the divorce.

      Until my daughter reached the stage of control of her PTSD (month and months) that she could manage not to dredge up and blurt out things that should not be said in the heat of the moment, I didn’t confide to her my motives for being polite to him. Why? Because I knew that at some point in time he’d trigger her about something, and she might well blurt out, “Ha! The only reason my mother is decent to you is because of the kids. She hates your fucking guts, too.” Once she was stable enough to be able to think and act strategically, we clarified all of that.

      Hard core Narcs aren’t typically financially generous over the long haul. And, being strategically manipulative when you have a lot to lose is also not necessarily narcissistic. It’s called, “Keeping your friends close and your enemies closer,” for strategic reasons.

      I would hate to see you and your mother become permanently estranged if your mother’s motives are honorable. Is there no way you can talk to her? And, if her motives are like mine, are you at a point where you can be strategic about it and not give your mother away?

      My daughter knows that if he is ever abusive to her again, that I will use every resource to try and destroy his ass while keeping those babies out of the line of fire. But four years ago, she would not have been able to keep that information to herself because she was a walking mess.

      Just thought I’d throw that in….

      • My youngest has also had (and still does to some extent) to deal with the fact that both her father and her X are cheaters.

        The cheating and the two divorces overlapped. It was a very BLEAK time in our family for several years. She was doubly devastated. Has some very predictable trust issues with men. DUH!

        Life can get tedious people. One has to get STRONG. Or as my old dude tells me, “You are stronger than truckload of goats. I’d have had to kill somebody!”

        • Ok, it makes sense to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But to throw them a BBQ? I dunno, that seems a bit much.

          If her mom simply wants to maintain her ties to the ex’s mom, why can’t she be more discreet? Why can’t they just meet for coffee? Why does she feel the need to invite the cheater and his whole crew and treat them to a home-cooked meal? And why does the OP have to be there again? So they can get in on the “conscious uncoupling” trend? How fashionable! What a wonderful way to control your family’s image, by having one of those trendy amicable divorces. Well hell, count me in! I’m off to Target so I can buy some matching plates and napkins.

          Here’s what I’ve noticed about being a chump surrounded by narcs. Whenever I’ve been in a vulnerable state, it’s like every bandit at the bar starts shooting at my feet to get me dance, just like in those old Westerns.

          Maybe the mom has good reasons for wanting to court the ex and family. However, the fact pattern the OP presented and the way she reacted to it suggests to me that her gut is telling her to protect herself from a narcissistic mother. I think it’s wise to consider other perspectives, but is it so wise to over-think your gut? If mom comes back later with some cogent reasoning for her plans, if OP gets new information, great. Nothing wrong with being flexible. That being said, I think it’s wise to trust your gut. Gift of fear, and all that.

          • FS,

            I made the assumption that Ann’s former MIL was invited (and the cheater could come, too, if his mother wanted him to tag along) but missed where she related that the OP attends these functions.

            So, I’m assuming that the man is actually married to the OP now. This would be offensive to me, too, and I’d decline. If it pissed off my mother…oh, well.

            Bottom line? It is ANYONE’s prerogative to decline any invitation without saying anything other than, “I can’t attend that function.” [And, if I arrived to unexpectedly find people with whom I choose not to associate, I’d turn around and leave, or if autos tipped me off, just drive on by. If the host got embarrassed by my behavior…oh well…they shouldn’t have tried to pull a fast one. Not my problem what they think of me.]

            If declining is emotionally problematic for Ann, because she has a hard time setting boundaries, she needs to learn (perhaps with a therapist’s help) to do it anyway…whether parental narcissism is the problem or not the procedures remain the same. Don’t participate.

            The more we practice setting appropriate boundaries with people in a business like way, the easier it becomes. People either learn to respect our boundaries or they miss out on our company.

            I am cordial but don’t fawn over my D’s former in-laws either. There have been birthday parties for the grands to which they and the X were invited, because she makes every attempt to co parent with dignity and because the children love their father and other grandparents. But she’s a pretty good boundary setter, and makes it crystal clear that the girlfriend is not invited. . That if GF attempts to show up she will be met at the driveway and turned away. So far they haven’t pushed their luck. If he ends up marrying the woman, the rules will remain the same. This has also been made clear.

            I’ll grant you that dangerous narcs exist and require “back up” to “back them off, ” but many of them are just common emotional bullies who are annoying as hell but lose their bluster when they see it won’t work. They either comply or boycott. Either way you don’t have to put up with their shit.

            If Ann’s mother will not respect Ann’s wishes; then Ann’s behavior will show her mother that Ann will protect her boundaries. It will get easier with time.

            I hate it that so many good people have to go through this needless crap, but people being people, you sometimes just have to show them you mean business. If they still try to disrespect you, then they don’t need to be in your life.

            • Notyou, did you get a chance to see my response? I was hoping for more feedback. I’m going to copy/paste it again, just in case you’ve missed it. Basically, I’m saying that my mother accuses me of being controlling (nice shift huh?) about me asking her to cease contact with ex MIL. But there’s more. Please read.

          • “but is it so wise to over-think your gut? ”

            It can be very wise to trust your gut and find out what is bugging it, but unless you are in physical danger, it can be very unwise to allow pain, fear, anger or ego to cause you to act precipitously and end up screwing over yourself over.

            When we are in distress that intense, there is significant cognitive blocking that hinders our ability both to delay gratification and think long-term.

            I am eternally grateful to the people who sat on me, and kept me from literally “giving away the farm” in my efforts to escape my pain. I found that I could sit with my pain, and could master it and achieve more clarity through losing my fear of it.

            • This is the part I don’t think made it through, maybe I didn’t press the send button…Notyou, you’re wise and helpful by offering a different perspective on this highly emotional topic. By the way, the questions you’ve posed are almost identical to the ones my own therapist had asked me, so maybe he isn’t so bad after all. Truthfully, my expectations of him were such that he would agree with me that what my mother is doing is purely inconsiderate and cruel. Now on to those questions: do I think my mother is planning ahead in terms of access to her grand children? Plausible BUT also not exactly a concern as lives in Europe and I reside in US. We don’t see each other more than once a tear anyway! There’s no indication that she would lose any access simply because I’ve got the custody nor we’ve had any alienation issues in the past. That’s why this is so baffling to me. What does she have to gain from remaining buddy buddy with my ex MIL, especially since their relationship was never one I would call close. As a matter of fact, both women constantly give each other negative evaluations behind each others backs, anything from fashion choices to moral dilemmas. My point is that I just don’t see the big incentive here for my mother.
              This came about when my parents showed up for their annual visit, decided to throw a BBQ type of party before they leave the country again. But THERE’S MORE. Mother has already revealed to me, perhaps by accident, that she’s considering inviting ex MIL to her country for the whole summer. They’re both retired. When I asked what her exact motives were, she simply blurred out that she would like to show off her house (which yes, is beautiful, new, her pride and joy, ex MIL has never seen it in person. She then backtracked a bit and corrected herself by stating that she just wants to show the country, kind of like playing a good hostess, because ex MIL is old and she may never have this opportunity to visit again.
              Notyou, this is where the struggle comes in for me: why the fuck would she do this if she knows ex MIL has done some offensive things to me. Quick example: she criticizes me to my 4 year old when she has alive time with him.
              My therapist mentioned that I should set my boundaries with my own mother by simply stating that her chumminess with ex MIL makes me very uncomfortable, and it is that feeling of discomfort that should matter here.
              This leads me to answer your other question, about whether I have communicated this to my mother. I certainly have and the response I got was short of “you’re not the boss of me.” Mind you, mother also insinuated in the past and since the breakup that she doesn’t fault ex for his multiple infidelities BECAUSE my depressive episode a few years back was something that would drive any man away (her words.)
              Alienation is the last thing on my mind and I can proudly say that I have behaved with dignity and as much politeness as I can muster in regards to ex MIL.
              That’s why this feels like I’m being thrown under the bus by someone who should have my back no matter what selfish needs they have.
              Maybe my own perception is somewhat distorted but I feel as her needs and wants show lack of respect. Do you agree?
              On the subject of her being a covert narcissist: she has never made me feel like my opinion mattered, unless it aliened with hers. It was what got me into therapy in first place.

              • OMG… I have to jump in here as the Chumpy Kid. I miss Chump son on this one, too.

                You know that feeling that you are emotionally drained and nothing has even happened yet? Sure sign of narcissistic assault on the horizon. Let’s play this out. Your mom invites ex MIL for the entire summer. What do they have in common to talk about? You. There isn’t one other person in the world that your mother would host but her? Doesn’t she have any other friends?

                You need to work on the lack of perspective you get when you are raised by narcissists. Read the Wizard of Oz book, and there is another one, its called “The Narcissitic Family Diagnosis and Treatment” by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman and Robert M. Pressman. It is written for therapists and it’s kind of expensive for a paperback but it is excellent. I actually gave it to my therapist to read, and she gave it back to me saying she didn’t have time to read it, but a few months later she called me at home and asked me the name of it!!!

                You have to worry about you. Your mom hasn’t really changed, but now you think you need her emotional support, and not only is she not giving it to you, but she is throwing you under the bus. She is trying to get you to dance. What kind of dance, I don’t know. You are exhausted trying to untangle the skein of her fuckedupness.

                Seems like you see her once a year. Let her spend her summer with your ex in law, play hostess and wait on her. Don’t ask her a thing about it. YOur mom is emotionally draining you, and like a vampire she is feeding off your turmoil. Time to take a bite of garlic and let her go. I’m so sorry, this really sucks for you.

              • Nancy, thanks for your input. Do you want to hear something even more fuckedup? When I confronted mother and said I don’t appreciate her meddling and making me feel like she’s taking sides, she replied with that I am being CONTROLLING and I have no right to tell her who she can and cannot invite. That reply made me speechless. She also said that I’ve always been the difficult daughter because I don’t listen to all of her advice. In her opinion it is ME who’s disrespecting her (because she raised me, provided for me, helped me financially, blah blah etc.)
                She said she doesn’t want to talk to me until I “calm down” about the situation.
                What on earth should I say to that?
                I also forgot to mention that she wants ex MIL to come with the grandson so they both can spend time with him. WTF? WTF? I don’t even know what to say or how I should defend myself any longer. I’ve been depressed, anxious and this isn’t helping my recovery at all.

              • This is what you say. “Good”. don’t talk to me until I calm down. Walk away calmly. There is no doubt in my mind about your mother’s narcissism, and the fact that you married someone who didn’t respect you doesn’t surprise me. Look, she has been waiting years to say what she said to you. She resents you, because you refuse to play along with the illusion that she walks on water. Shame on you for having your own thoughts.

                You need time away from her. Read the books on narcissistic parents and the invisible damage that they do. You are doubting your own feelings, which you were trained to do. Now, standing up for yourself, she has to stop it. She can’t tolerate that in you.

                Truth be told, the kid is not going anywhere with your ex mother in law unless your ex husband has custody and he takes the kid. Let her figure it out. No need to fight with her about it.

                She’s mean. She gave you something so she could call in her markers. Give yourself time and space. good luck.

              • Thanks again, Nancy. I wonder if she’ll ever get it. It hurts so much.
                What do you think, notyou? I always patiently wait for your insight too.

              • Ann,
                I responded at length up above because I had not seen this post yet. My advice remains the same: Enforce your personal boundaries and don’t be emotionally bullied into doing things that make you uncomfortable. Your mother needs to learn from your behavior that you are now an adult and will make your own decisions. Don’t argue with her; just hold the line about those important things.

              • “This came about when my parents showed up for their annual visit, decided to throw a BBQ type of party before they leave the country again.”


                Are you telling me that your mother is giving a BBQ at YOUR home and inviting these people? Simple answer: Oh, hell to the NO!! That is past boundary stepping; it’s bulldozing across the line with all the finesse of a drunk Water Buffalo.

                “This leads me to answer your other question, about whether I have communicated this to my mother. I certainly have and the response I got was short of “you’re not the boss of me.”

                You aren’t the boss of her, but NEITHER is she the boss of you! You are an adult now, and sometimes adult children are called upon to set and enforce boundaries with intrusive, demanding parents. [My own Mom will give her opinion but she is not a dictator, so I have never had to face major boundary setting with a parent.]

                If she wants to fraternize with your MIL in her country and in her home, what can you really do about it other than get your panties in a wad an fret? Let ’em rip; just don’t join them.

                I’ll say what I always say in these kinds of situations: We cannot force people to respect us nor can we control their behavior. HOWEVER, we CAN and SHOULD respect ourselves, set boundaries for behavior that make us uncomfortable, and don’t move off those boundaries. It is NOT comfortable at first, especially if we have been a dutiful child or spouse; but the more you do it the easier it gets! And, you will be surprised how many people learn to back the hell up and stop trying to impose.

                Good luck to you. I know it makes it worse that you Mom is doing it, but she doesn’t need to be allowed to be a petty tyrant either. Mom or not.

                Speaking of Narc’s…

                Your mother and MIL sound a lot like my X MIL. She always appeared smiling and sweet, but she was an intrusive, super controlling Narc. She did the “sweet lil ole me act,” and crocodile tears if needed. Never failed to gut hurt my X the consummate Mommy’s Boy. He couldn’t see her for what she was.

                Oh, and she was also the Euphemism Queen. Nobody in their family ever used the words “conflict,” “argument,” or “fight. Her word of choice (and all the kids used it, too) was, “confusion”…as in, “…A and B had some ‘confusion’.” or even better in passive voice, “There WAS some confusion about…”

                On a couple of occasions I broke down and said, “Confusion, my butt. There was no “confusion.” They were mad as hell at each other and had a humdinger of an argument!” [To this day when I hear the word “confusion” used to refer to a disagreement or conflict, it makes my skin crawl and my teeth clinch. But the memory of her makes my skin crawl and my teeth clinch anyway.”

                She had this nasty little habit of pointing out my (and her sons-in-laws) flaws (as SHE perceived them) by beginning a sentence with, “I don’t mean any harm BUT…..” [When I heard that I knew that, yes, indeedy, harm WAS meant.)

                She was always VERY careful not to do this in front of my X or his Dad. She always left herself ‘plausible deniability.’ She’d get me alone and drop one of her little stink bombs.

                One time (with these precise words and through her gritted teeth) she told me, “I tell you how to do things the right way, and you go back to your house and just do what you want to do.”

                Also she was a subtle under-miner and “marginalizer.” By the time our marriage ended, I could go to their home with him for a weekend visit and go for hours without speaking….just nodding with a neutral look on my face. I had learned early on that if I contributed anything of substance on any topic, that I would get the little shoulder lifts and eye rolls…that kind of thing.

                It took me years to realize that it would not have mattered whom my X married the woman simply would never have been good enough. I didn’t try to please her. I endured the visits for his sake, did my best to keep the visits at a minimum and lived my life at home the way I chose.

                Two of her Sons-in-laws (my BILS) also had her number and were acutely aware of her smiling evil….they commented to me about it on several occasions. She hurt the youngest SILs feelings so badly once that he boycotted their house for nearly 15 years.

                My sons-in-laws (wedded to two of her granddaughters) have their own opinions–and they’re NOT flattering. She pissed off my middle SIL so bad one time that he abruptly left and drove 5 hours home, leaving my middle daughter there to catch a ride home with her younger sister. And I knew EXACTLY why he did it!! ROTFLMAO

                Astonishingly, her children and most of the grandchildren seem to think she is a such a “Saint”

                Her two younger D’s are so fucking Narcissistic (youngest D told me this one because it happened after my divorce) that on the morning of X’s father’s funeral, his two youngest sisters were arguing about the fact that one of them was in a greater number of the photographs taken at his father’s wake the night before. The sister just younger than my X came running to back of the house (my youngest D was standing right there and heard it all) and told my X, ” A and B are having a terrible argument about this and it’s upsetting mother. Can you go stop them? They won’t listen to me. Well they would listen to him because he’d been parentified and had had to raise the three little sisters since he was tall enough to stand at a stove. His workaholic, Narc mother couldn’t be bothered…she was a backwoods pulp-wood hauler’s daughter who had married a “big farmer” above her social station, was a social climber, and beauty pageant for her daughters pusher and needed money for luxuries.

                In my naïve newlywed state to him, we built a house near them on the farm. I was showing it to the sister born right after him, the oldest girl.
                We were standing in the backyard after the tour when she looked me dead in the eyes and said (I quote), “You have just built your own personal little HELL and moved right into it. She was right. Within a couple of years and my being a constarntwalking nervous breakdown we moved to another state, where we lived for nearly thirty years until the divorce.

                How’s that for whole family Narc dysfunction?
                Is it any wonder that our cheaters were so fucked up?

                Good luck to you, sweetheart. Don’t allow anyone to make you uncomfortable. You always have the option to NOT PARTICIPATE in the shit.

    • Ann, it should be your choice, based on the advice of your attorney or your own preference, as to whether or not you have contact with your X or his family. Your mother is totally out of line. The trick is not to plead or argue with her. Think of what she is doing as a kind of “pick-me” dance. She is asking you to choose between her and your own needs. Don’t get into that trap. Just tell her, “Mom, I understand if you want to stay connected to my X and his family. That’s your choice. My choice is not to participate. And my child will not be there without me.”

      One of the worst and best things about being betrayed is we get to find out a lot about people we have assumed are loyal family members and friends. It’s heartbreaking to have a mother who is essentially betraying you again. But the best thing about that is that you now know where you stand. I don’t see a need to go NC with your mother, although you might choose to limit your interactions with her. You were the one who was betrayed by your partner. You have every right to draw your own boundaries. Listen to your own gut, your instincts. Follow your feelings. You have every right to go full NC with your EX and his family, within the bounds defined by custody arrangements. It’s not your mother’s call. Be strong.

  • CL – I am blown away once again by your ability to laser right through to the core of a situation. I envy your insight. CX2 – You are doing a great job!!

    This post and a lot of the responses are also reminding me of Chump Son. I think he would have had such great insight into this situation.

    To Chump Son, Not forgotten…

    • Thanks FLBright……..So glad you mentioned Chump Son.
      I still think of him & his family often….They are still in my prayers….What an amazing human he was……

    • Yes, I was reading one of Chump Son’s old posts last night. So grateful that some of his wisdom and insight is stored here at CL. Not forgotten at all.

  • Good advice, Cx2.

    I can sympathize with your mother’s predicament. She’s spent the majority of her life in a marriage to your father. She may have sensed that something wasn’t right, but only recently had confirmation. She may also be emotionally worn down after all these years. You said that she gave your father a lot of independence. This may be because she felt better when he was gone than when he was around–a red flag in a relationship! Besides the sunk costs of the years of her marriage and her stage in life, she’s also on the cusp of the generation of women who stayed at home and the generation of women who went into the work force.

    She may be holding out for your father to die. My mother was astounded when she found out that many of the women in her generation felt liberated when they buried their husbands. Widowed, she may have a better financial set-up than if she were divorced.

    All that said, though, I think I’d have a chat with her about counseling. Clearly your father is going, but your mom is not convinced he’s doing his work. If your mother isn’t in counseling, she should get there. Counseling can help her understand her decisions better, and may enable her to see she has more options. Also, I think the suggestion of seeing a lawyer is a good one. Her goal here may be to find out her options–including a good post-nupt with an infidelity clause.

    You could tell her that knowing more about the financials is a good thing since, as others have mentioned, assuming your father predeceases your mother, she’ll need to know about the financials anyway. In fact, he could sign over jointly-held property to her so as to avoid probate later on.

    And yes, I think that business-polite in those cases where you can’t go complete NC makes sense. That way, you can respect your mother’s desire to stay with your father, but not get caught up in his crazy.

    • As I finished this, I realized that “respect” is not quite the word to use to describe your reactions to your mother’s decision. I think that “acknowledge” is better, and really, all you’d do is play nice just to make life easier on your mother. I agree that the less contact you have with your father, the better for everyone.

  • I’ll be honest and say that if I were in my 70s I’d stick it out and wait for the old codger to pop his clogs. From a financial perspective it would make more sense and the pain in the ass of going through a divorce at that point in life would probably not be worth it.

    While waiting for the grim reaper to arrive I’d get a post-nup, let him take care of himself and go have some fun…on his dime. Girl holidays!

      • My late mother in law was good to me. She also set a great example. When my father in law got too old to go out on the town with whores, he was bedridden and dependent on her. She put a sign on his door proclaiming him King of Idiots and told him to call Meals on Wheels. She went on vacations and visits with her daughters! So long cheater. No divorce was needed in her case!

        • Love it, Linda!!

          People NEVER learn that… the back you climb on going up is always attached to that ass you get to kiss on the way down. 🙂

    • I would do the same Nord, as well as build a life of my own, that fed my soul, filled with people that love and respect me. If my husband miraculously changed, great, if not, I would continue on MY own mighty path …to MEH.

    • I totally agree with this, but the problem is that sometimes, life has a funny way of kicking your ass when you’re already down.

      I’ve heard stories where the long-suffering spouse is just biding her/his time, when they’re struck by cancer, or a stroke, or some other debilitating disease that will rob them of their health so that they can’t enjoy their just desserts. To add insult to injury, many times, these folks pre-decease their cheater and don’t get any peace of mind till they breathe their last anyways.

      I can completely understand the rationale for waiting for the spouse’s death, but I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel doing it. Life is really, really unpredictable.


  • Such great advice from CL and all of Chump Nation. I’m sometimes awed over the wisdom on this site.

    This question of Cx2’s made me realize that my dad cheated on my mom, and my brother cheated on his first wife. These are men I love and respect, yet they did the very thing that caused me indescribable pain.

    It really messes with your head.

  • Family and actions/behavior are tough.
    My father cheated, abandoned the family, and really only returned to divorce my mother to marry the OW. My siblings and I have minimal contact, I am the only offspring he visits. He comes ca. 1x/year to visit the grand kids (my choice).

    You choose the contact you want with your father.

    As an aside, it was tough to swallow the fact that I basically married a person who acted just like my father. It was difficult to wrap my head around it, especially as my former FIL cheated on my former MIL (before I met them) and exH saw how difficult it was for his mother (the relative to whom he is closest). 25 yrs later and she is still angry (they did not divorce). Very sad.

  • I gotta say,,yup I know how she feels. My father was a hitter and beat my mom, man I rem as a kid wondering why she stayed. I mean there were 5 of us & I guess divorce was out of the question back then. But even when he was older before he died he was parading around a girl half his age right in front of me claiming they were just friends. I fucking outed his ass to mom I figured fuck it the poor lady took enough beatings in her life she needed to give one back to him,, and what does she do in the end ? She stayed didn’t say a fucking word,, that was the time she should have left him ,,we were all grown and gone.
    Then he got really sick & died and she had to move in with me. Not 18 months later she got cancer refused chemo and followed his cheating abusive ass from this earth. I will never ever figure out why she stayed through his beatings cheating gambling drinking abusive scum bag ways. He was really old school dirty & my mom did not deserve that shit. They are buried together her on top of him and I hope she is kicking his ass everyday of his miserable after life.

    • My God, Michael – that’s heartbreaking. I’m so very sorry.

      I hope she’s beating his ass every day too.

  • Michael,

    Seeing all that pain and dysfunction taught you how you would never want to treat another person. Good for you. Some children model on the bad parent and grow up to be monsters, too. Says a lot for your mother’s perseverance and influence upon you.

    I’m curious though. Are you in therapy to overcome how your identification with your mother may have detrimentally affected your ability to set strong boundaries ?

    I’m well aware that you are sitting tight right now in order to run interference and protect your children, and that you have chosen not to set the ultimate boundary of shedding her cheating butt; but a good therapist may help support you to set mini-boundaries even within the current situation.

    Are you trying to hang in there until the children are old enough to express a preference for the parent with which they would like to live? Have you spoken with an attorney to explore the feasibility of getting paramount custody? I’d like to see you get more relief because you come across as a truly patient and kind man.

    It is a horrible double bind to remain in this situation because you feel that you would miss out on so much of your children or even worse be throwing them to the wolves if you left her. While the majority of contributors here are women, men have their own unique problems; and my heart goes out to you.

  • Morn Not, To be honest it took me time. I was a wild child. Drank early did drugs ran the streets yea I was pretty fucked up trying to run from where I lived and what I was living through. Hard hell ya poor yup I was working 3 jobs at 13 to help put food on the table for my family. It was a diff time & I was trying to escape the madness. I was angry oh so angry.

    I went to IC for a little while esp aft I caught her cheating and to deal with her NPD. I thought I was going crazy & the shit was my fault. ( the wife’s cheating).
    I never told the IC about my father,, well I did tell her a lil just about my beatings never about how he beat cheated on my mom. In fact you people are the first I told. I don’t know why.
    No lawyer yet, I am staying, I know I know. But like I said before there is no fucking way I am not going to be there everyday for them, am I projecting and being over protective esp of my sweet pea ? Yea prob. I am giving them something I never had. They are secure confident, my boys are not afraid you know THAT FEAR I had as a kid/teenager. 1 day at a time 🙂

    • Morning Michael,

      You apparently learned valuable lessons from having survived your childhood and from your foray into “wildness,” because you project a resoluteness about doing what you believe is right for your children despite it being such a tough go.

      It is true that adversity IS relative; and depending upon one’s prior referents, being cheated upon (while painful) might be way down one’s personal list of dreaded alternatives.

      You made a choice. You have your reasons. It is not ours to judge. I admire your ability to face the beating without caving. Perhaps the old cliché, “They can kill me, but they can’t eat me,” applies? 😉

  • And yes she does not understand boundaries even after I caught her she still fights me on a lot of them. After all she is entitled 😉

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